Research interests

  • Ecophysiology / Ecohydrology
  • Tree physiology (especially water-use and growth)
  • Forest ecology and forest dynamics
  • Wood anatomy
  • Dendroclimatology


Temperate forests are subjected to a trend of extreme events which has challenged trees with drought-induced water stress in recent years and will most likely continue to create an environment with new and more extreme conditions. Understanding how trees respond e.g., in their water-use and growth to such challenges is crucial in determining the impacts of environmental change on forest ecosystems. My work at the Physiological Plant Ecology group focuses on drought adjustment mechanisms of temperate trees with a particular look on below-ground dynamics such as growth and water-use. To quantify these dynamics, we are carrying out a long-term climate change experiment at the Swiss Canopy Crane II site in Hölstein to simulate the hydroclimate of the future. (


Since 2022      PhD candidate in the Physiological Plant Ecology group, Department of Environmental Sciences, University of Basel, Switzerland
2021 ­– 2022    Research assistant at the German Archaeological Institute, Berlin, Eurasia Department: Natural Sciences – Dendrochronology
2017 –2021     Master of Science in Global Change Geograpghy, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Germany
Thesis: Stomatal conductance and sap flow dynamics in the Northeastern German Lowlands
2013 – 2017    Bachelor of Science in Physical Geography at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Germany and Johann-Wolfgang-Goethe-Universität, Frankfurt am Main, Germany
Thesis: Investigation of Quercus petraea Earlywood Vessels as Climate Proxy for the North German Lowlands
2009 – 2012    Bachelor of Science in Economics and Business Administration at Johann-Wolfgang-Goethe-Universität, Frankfurt am Main, Germany


Steger DN, Peters RL, Blume T, Hurley AG, Balanzategui D, Balting DF, Heinrich I. 2024. Site matters - Canopy conductance regulation in mature temperate trees diverges at two sites with contrasting soil water availability. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology 345: 109850.

Nagavciuc V, Michel SLL, Balting DF, Helle G, Freund M, Schleser GH, Steger DN, Lohmann G, Ionita M. 2023. A past and present perspective on the European summer vapour pressure deficit. Climate of the PastDiscussions 2023: 1–29.

Peters RL, Steppe K, Pappas C, Zweifel R, Babst F, Dietrich L, Arx G, Poyatos R, Fonti M, Fonti P, Grossiord C, Gharun M, Buchmann N, Steger DN, Kahmen A. 2023. Daytime stomatal regulation in mature temperate trees prioritizes stem rehydration at night. New Phytologist 239: 533–546.

Zweifel R, Pappas C, Peters RL, Babst F, […] , Steger DN, et al.2023. Networking the forest infrastructure towards near real-time monitoring – A white paper. Science of the Total Environment 872:162167.

Hurley AG, Peters RL, Pappas C, Steger DN, Heinrich I. 2022. Addressing the need for interactive, efficient and reproducible data processing in ecology with the datacleanr R package. PLOS ONE 17(5): e0268426.

Grießinger J, Langhamer L, Schneider C, Saß BL, Steger DN, Skvarca P, Braun MH, Meier WJH, Srur AM, Hochreuther P. 2018. Imprints of climate signals in a 204-year δ18O tree-ring record of Nothofagus pumilio from Perito Moreno Glacier, Southern Patagonia (50°S). Frontiers in Earth Science 6: 27.

Weidemann SS, Sauter T, Kilian R, Steger DN, Butorovic N, Schneider C.2018. A 17-year record of meteorological observations across the Gran Campo Nevado ice cap in Southern Patagonia, Chile, related to synoptic weather types and climate modes. Frontiers in Earth Science 6: 53.








David N. Steger

University of Basel
Schönbeinstrasse 6
4056 Basel

Office No.: 01.001
061 207 35 13